Yes! I have the same problem! Hence, I am considering using one act, or short plays ranging from 2 to 8 characters.
I believe this format will provide fun and speaking practice not to mention learning new vocabulary, idioms and slang phrases, etc. Given that I will be able to locate plays to meet the various ESL student levels, I see this format as having excellent potential in speech development.
It is by practice and by repetition and by coaching that the student will gain confidence in their ability to SPEAK!
Having to speak by playing a role in a play demands proper pronunciation, word inflections, and non-verbal movements at the same time. I intend to present Star Badges for performance improvement. A performance progress result is achieved by taping the first and last performances of the play which is played back to the students. Hopefully, their will be an noticeable overall improvement in speaking skills.
Class and homework assignments can be crafted from the contents of the play and graded accordingly.
The variable number of characters in each play requires a specific classroom drama activity structure based on the number of characters to number of students in the class. The character numbers automatically create teams ranging from 2 to 6 or more persons. Team competitions could also be factored in with perhaps the students grading each others teams. The team with the most badges wins a prize.
The pacing of the play would be determined by each teacher and/or school/company.
Another speaking development tool is to role play making telephone calls. Students sit back to back, use their cell phones, and have to make a call to the other student on one of a variety of different subjects and tasks. Conference call setting can also be used. Conversation subject matter is selected by the students who pull their card from 3x5 index cards. Conversation script and subject matter is developed by the teacher along with congruent skill building exercises. Subjects such as making a doctor's appointment; calling a friend to go to the movies, out to eat, etc.; making a hotel reservation; booking an airplane ticket; calling in sick for work; etc. provide real world life experiences. For optimal teacher evaluation of the conversation, only one pair of students can role play, leaving the balance of the students having to listen. That may be a good time for them to write down words that they do not understand, etc.
I welcome your feedback, thanks.